After Stacey Abrams worked hard to secure three election victories in recent months, her admirers have been racking their brains trying to think of the perfect thank you gift for the political activist.
Her leadership helped register new and mainly Black voters in Georgia, which turned the state blue in November and contributed to the election of President Joe Biden. Then, in the state's Senate runoff race in January, the Democratic candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won, leading to Democratic control of the Senate.
On Jan. 5, vlogger Hank Green was among those to shower Abrams with praise. "What does Stacey Abrams want for her birthday? Let's get it for her," he tweeted, even though she doesn't turn 48 until Dec. 9. Responses included a guest spot on Star Trek, Buffy memorabilia, a luxury vacation and the crown she deserves.
It turns out, what Abrams really wants is a bit more in line with her goals as an organizer. When speaking to Marie Claire for its April 2021 cover story on Monday, March 8, she told fans what she actually wants in return.
E! News has an exclusive first look at the cover story, for which Abrams answered the question. She told writer Ashley C. Ford, "I want to be defending voting rights."
She continued, "I want us to effectively leverage the census and redistricting, and I want us to serve the disproportionately harmed communities. I want us to rebuild the public infrastructure of the South, using COVID not as an excuse for what was broken but as a template for what we need to do right."
It's not quite the gift most fans had envisioned, but, as Ford explained, "If it's at all surprising that the luminary doesn't name an expensive car or a vacation, well, you haven't been listening."
She's right. For Abrams' birthday in 2020, the Yale Law School alum humbly asked her followers to request their ballot, donate if they could and help out through the voting rights organization Fair Fight.
This week, Abrams said the victories in Georgia weren't due to "magic," but "math." That's part of the reason she doesn't refer to herself as a hero but rather as someone with determination, according to Ford.
The former gubernatorial nominee said, "My success is tied at the most base level with the success of my people, and my people are the South. My people are Americans. My people are people of color. My success can only ever be real if I'm doing it for the success of others."
Though she wouldn't reveal any plans on running for office again, Abrams said that, going forward, she's ready to keep working in Georgia and focus on making change. She shared, "If you can do it [in Georgia], you can prove that it is possible in enclaves that have given up. If you can do this stuff in the Deep South— if you can elect a Black Southern preacher and a Jewish son of an immigrant to the U.S. Senate while Donald Trump sits in the White House, then, by God, everything else is possible."
Of course, this is 2021 and even Abrams has a side hustle that she continues to work on. She's already published eight romance novels under her pseudonym Selena Montgomery and will release her first thriller, While Justice Sleeps, on May 11 under her real name.
She admitted that romance authors and the genre as a whole are often "discounted," but explained why she keeps writing books on the side, regardless of her busy schedule.
"I am honored to be in the company of women—and some good men—who are discounted because of who they are, because of what they do, and because of their audacity of imagination," the trailblazer said. "Writing is cathartic, but it's also demonstrative... It is how I can tell about other parts of me and get to explore things and ideas that I'm interested in without having to create another life and find another 30 hours in a day."
Read the full story online at Marie Claire on Monday. It hits newsstands on April 6.